Chef Dustin Pajak of Close
Company does big things
in close quarters.
by Jessie Schmidtke
“It feels massive now,” jokes Chef Dustin Pajak, stretching his legs
out in the 330 square foot River Heights restaurant where he’s been
chefing for more than three years. Close Company may be the tiniest
restaurant in the city, but Pajak’s talent and ambitious menu carry big
intentions. He’s redefining what a neighbourhood restaurant can be.
When the space that housed a barber shop for more than 60 years
became available, owners Cam Chabot and Tammie Rocke envisioned
a cool spot to grab coffee and cocktails, something lacking in the area
at the time. Rocke, an interior designer whose touch can be seen at
trendy eateries across the city, put her skills to work, adding industrial
elements and even lodging a ship porthole in the wall to make the
most of their cozy 12-seat space.
Candles flicker on dark soapstone surfaces and music gently plays,
setting the mood; a little bit soul, a little bit rock and roll. Pajak
is a true multi-talented chef, seamlessly transitioning from DJ to
mixologist, server to dishwasher all in one night. His days start early,
receiving deliveries from farmers and picking up ingredients from
neighbourhood suppliers before his guests start to arrive. Seeing the
reaction of everyone relishing the first bite of his food makes long days
ciao! / oct/nov / two thousand nineteen